The fifth Queens Chowhound dinner was another success. Thanks go to Dick Campbell for his great organization! Thirteen people gathered at Cornel's Garden on 46-04 Skillman Ave. in Sunnyside on Friday evening to sample its Romanian cuisine. It was good that we had the exact address because there is no sign with the name outside at least nothing we could see in the dark. The restaurant is long and narrow. We were seated in its skylight room in the rear. There were two other parties as large as ours in the room, plus one table of three Romanian guys who, thankfully, were the only ones smoking.
The most popular first course items in our group were the delicious tripe soup with garlic, sour cream, and hot peppers on the side; mamaliga, which is polenta topped with sour cream and a grated white cheese; eggplant salad, and bean salad. For the main course, many of us had the much discussed sarmale (stuffed cabbage served with sausage), pork stuffed with garlic, and a Romanian stew. Various grilled fish and prime rib were also available. The bread baskets were filled with a nice, crusty white bread, good for the sauces.
Dessert choices consisted of apple strudel and papanasi, doughnuts topped with sweetened sour cream and fruit preserves. Both were delicious, but the doughnut dessert was something special.
The service was polite and attentive, and the food was uniformly good. One Chowhounder at the dinner once lived in Romania and pronounced everything "very authentic." There is also a decent selection of wines and a few kinds of beer.